The Aletta Jacobs Prize 2020 of the University of Groningen is to be awarded to the President of the Dutch House of Representatives, Khadija Arib. She will be awarded the prize due to her relentless campaign for the position of Moroccan women in the Netherlands in particular, her inspiring exemplary role as the first female President of the House of Representatives with a migration background and for the way in which she highlighted the celebration of 100 years of suffrage in the Netherlands as a celebration of universal suffrage for both men and women. Today, on 28 September 2019, it is precisely 100 years since the law allowing women in the Netherlands the right to vote came into force, partially thanks to the strife of Aletta Jacobs. The prize will be awarded on 6 March 2020 by Rector Magnificus Prof. Cisca Wijmenga.
‘In the same year in which we are celebrating 100 years of suffrage, we award this prize to Khadija Arib, emphasizing how important democratic values such as the freedom of expression and the equal treatment of both men and women still are,’ says chair of the jury, Prof. Janka Stoker. ‘The jury is impressed by the manner in which Khadija Arib, in everything that she does, shows how crucial it is to continue speaking up for the universal values pertaining to a democracy. She knows from her own experience that these values are not self-evident. It was not self-evident at all that a woman with such a background would become President of the House of Representatives. She leads the House of Representatives with a firm hand, as well as with humour and charm, in an impressive and inspirational way. Thanks to her, we did not celebrate in 2017 (which marked 100 years since men were granted the right to vote) but instead, celebrated 100 years of universal suffrage in 2019. This year, there is no conceivable better winner of the Aletta Jacobs Prize.’
Khadija Arib (1960) was born in Morocco and moved to the Netherlands when she was 15 years old. Her parents worked in a launderette in Schiedam, where Khadija also worked during the holidays. Her mother taught her that she needed to become financially independent, so that she could always maintain control of her own life.
After secondary school, she started working as a social worker and family counsellor for foreign workers in Utrecht and Breda. In 1982, she moved to Amsterdam in her profession as a social worker. In 1985, she completed her studies in Social Work at the Sociale Academie. She pursued a career in Amsterdam in the coordination of and policy on employment projects and in policy relating to minorities. This was a position that she combined with her job as a lecturer at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. In 1995, she completed her degree programme in Sociology at the University of Amsterdam.
Since 1998, she has been a member of the PvdA (Dutch Labour Party) faction of the House of Representatives. In 2016, she was elected President of the House of Representatives. In 2017, she was re-elected. There were no opposing candidates.
The University of Groningen awards the Aletta Jacobs Prize once every two years to a woman with an academic degree who has promoted emancipation nationally and/or internationally. The prize was established in 1990 by Prof. Erik Bleumink, former President of the Board of the University. The prize of € 5,000 may be freely spent by the winner. Past winners of the prize include Neelie Kroes, Hedy d’Ancona, Petra Stienen and Lilianne Ploumen.
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